Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

Here Are the Two Pieces of Legislation That Could Forever Change Federal Marijuana Policy

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Jared Polis

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) have officially introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act and the Marijuana Tax Equity Act. The former bill eliminates federal prohibition of marijuana, and the latter bill establishes a tax structure for the production and sale of the drug, as well as removes it from the purview of the DEA. While the full language of the bills won't be released until after a 5 p.m. press conference, Polis has published specific provisions on his website

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act follows Colorado's model of regulating marijuana like alcohol by:

  • Removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Transferring the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to regulate marijuana to a newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana and Firearms, which will be tasked with regulating marijuana as it currently does alcohol;
  • Requiring marijuana producers to purchase a permit, as commercial alcohol producers do, of which the proceeds would offset the cost of federal oversight; and,
  • Ensuring federal law distinguishes between individuals who grow marijuana for personal use and those involved in commercial sale and distribution.

The Marijuana Tax Equity Act would create the following framework: 

  • This bill imposes a 50 percent excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, usually the processor;
  • Similar to the rules within the alcohol and tobacco tax provisions, an occupational tax will be imposed on those operating in marijuana, with producers, importers and manufacturers facing an occupation tax of $1,000/a year and any other person engaged in the business facing an annual tax of $500/a year;
  • Civil penalties will be imposed for failure to comply with taxing duties. Criminal penalties will be assessed for intentional efforts to defraud the taxing authorities; and,
  • The bill also requires the IRS to produce a study of the industry after two years, and every five years after that, and to issue recommendations to Congress to continue improving the administration of the tax.

Blumenauer and Polis also released a lengthy report titled "The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy."

In announcing the legislation's introduction, the Marijuana Policy Project also announced that it's changing the name of its political action arm, from "MPP Medical Marijuana PAC" to the "Marijuana Policy Project PAC."

"The re-naming of our PAC reflects the new reality in Washington, D.C.," MPP's Steve Fox said in a press release. "Following the passage of the initiatives to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol in Colorado and Washington last November, there is finally significant momentum in Congress behind ending marijuana prohibition across the board at the federal level."

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41 responses to “Here Are the Two Pieces of Legislation That Could Forever Change Federal Marijuana Policy

  1. Last I looked, and maybe Schoolhouse Rock deceived me, but a bill is just a bill and not a law until the President signs it. And you guys really think President Disappointment is going to sign such a bill?

    1. He’ll get the executive summary with his morning threat briefing. The only question is whether the drones will be accurate enough to target Polis and Blumenauer’s offices without damaging the rest of the Capitol.

    2. I think it is hard to say if he would veto it or not. I think that it is mostly an issue that he doesn’t want to deal with at all, rather than actually opposing it. If it passed, it would probably mean it had pretty broad support from Democrats. But I’ll be surprised if it even gets a vote in the house.

      1. I had a state representative explain to me why there is a committee system in the legislature.

        It’s because of bills like this. Bills that would have popular support, but are an offense to the political class. The politicians don’t want to be on record for opposing such bills, so instead they kill them in committee.

        This one will never make it out of committee.

        1. Unless we make an effort to pressure the committee members. Name and shame and call and write.

  2. So break it down for me. Where does this bill go from here? To committee? which committee? who’s on the committee? and what chance does it have of reaching the floor for a vote?

    1. MPP needs to detail all on the committees for these bills if they are going to committee so people can start barraging them with emails and phone calls.

  3. This is why the committee system exists. To prevent bills like these from ever seeing a vote.

  4. Geez, I know we will probably have to accept some amount of taxation and regulation to get prohibition ended, having a punitively huge 50% tax from producers to processors is not a very good place to start.

    1. Freedom isn’t free!

    2. Geez, I know we will probably have to accept some amount of taxation and regulation to get prohibition ended

      I don’t think so. If we wait 10 years for some more old people to die, we’ll have a much better bargaining position.

      Besides, I like states setting their own policy, and I like them telling the feds to fuck off in the process. 5-10 years ago, a 5000% tax for legalization would have sounded like a bargain. These days, I wouldn’t be in any rush to bend over for drug reform, the clock is on our side.

      1. Besides, I like states setting their own policy, and I like them telling the feds to fuck off in the process. 5-10 years ago

        I agree. Fuck em. I’m much more interested in states passing laws to legalize. Then start prosecuting rogue DEA agents for theft, kidnapping, assault and trespassing when they , you know, steal, kidnap, assault and trespass.

        Not that I’d advocate voting against the actual act. We effectively have a tax rate of infinity right now. Lowering it to 50% would still be a net improvement. We just shouldn’t feel obligated to grovel.

        1. But hell, if they couldn’t steal, kidnap, assault, and trespass, they might have to actually do some work.

  5. This bill imposes a 50 percent excise tax on the first sale of marijuana, from the producer to the next stage of production, usually the processor;

    50% ??

    Hello vertical integration and Big Marijuana.

    1. That’s why I’m starting my seeds and hydroponic business. Let home cultivation be the next homebrewing.

      1. Yep. Even so, I think some people will pay the tax. $50 for the grower and $50 for the state will seem like a bargain to a lot of people for an ounce of legal Kush or Purps.

  6. I don’t have much hope for either of these two bills, but the speed with which marijuana legalization is becoming a major issue is impressive. I didn’t think it would happen, even after WA and CO.

    1. Like they say about going bankrupt – slowly at first, and then all at once.

      It’s losing it’s stigma, both the stigma of drug use, and the stigma about the ‘unseriousness’ of the policy. All the people who were secretly with us are going public, and all the people who don’t care one way or the other and just want the issue to go away, are starting to see legalization as just as quick or quicker a method of making the debate go away as prohibition.

    2. Don’t count your chickens until they’re grown up. It might go slower than you think, but it’s inevitable.

  7. So should libertarians bite the bullet and vote for the EFPMA despite the regulatory oversight we disagree with, while opposing the MTEA?

    1. Get it off the schedule. Then let them fight over the taxes.

      1. Exactly. And the idea that legal marijuana won’t be taxed just like every other thing is a delusional fantasy.

  8. Might I suggest a requirement for a middle-man distributor under the guise of easy revenue collection and increased competition? Maybe a producer, distributor, retailer 3-tier system. I know it sounds insanely cumbersome and ripe for corruption but… well, it is all that.

  9. Let’s say it is made legal.

    Does that mean that employers will still require pre-employment drug screening?

    Can they refuse to hire you for engaging in legal activity?

    1. It should be up to the employer regardless.

    2. There are already more employers than you think who will refuse to hire you if you are a “tobacco user”.

      So, yes.

      1. agreed.

      2. I can almost see that, since tobacco users drive up health insurance costs and can be less productive being that they’re always outside sucking on a butt.
        And I could see terminating someone for showing up stoned or smoking dope on the job.
        But to refuse to hire someone because they smoke the stuff outside of work, just because it can be detected?
        Doesn’t seem right.

        1. Any employer should be able to fire any employee at any time, assuming they are not bound by a different contract. The problem with marijuana testing though is that it could stay in your system 2-4 weeks after it was last smoked. So if you get a job, then stop smoking for it, they could still detect it 2 weeks into the job during a random test.

          So on that issue, it is a bogus test. But the employer still reserves the right to hire and fire as they see fit, I think.

        2. Tobacco uses drive down net health expenditures by every measure compared to statistically average non-tobacco users. Thanks for believing the lie.

          1. Thanks for misreading what I said. I said that tobacco use drives up health insurance. That’s not the same as lifetime healthcare expenditures.

        3. and can be less productive being that they’re always outside sucking on a butt.

          Smokers and moms are the worst employees to have to deal with.

          1. Please. The non-smoker who is always off distracting some other worker from working while not working is easily the biggest sink.

  10. The thing I dislike the most is expanding the DEA’s power, and the ATF’s for that matter.

  11. . “Following the passage of the initiatives to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol in Colorado and Washington last November, there is finally significant momentum in Congress behind ending marijuana prohibition across the board at the federal level.”

    hate to say i told you so. it’s different this time, and this aint medical mj

  12. I’d like the bill to end with “and besides, we never had the constitutional authority to restrict the sale of marijuana with the states in the first place”

    1. after the abomination that was raich, i think this is wishful thinking. choice words they would be, but raich was one of the worst (logic-wise) supreme court decisions i have ever read.

      1. Rraich was indeed an abomination, but wickard v. filburn set that precedent. It is absolutely unbelievable to me that growing wheat on your own property to be consumed on your own property can be the subject of federal regulation. I boil every time I think about it.

  13. “I don’t have much hope for either of these two bills, but the speed with which marijuana legalization is becoming a major issue is impressive. I didn’t think it would happen, even after WA and CO.”

    i got near universal discord for making these points a few months ago, but it’s clear to me that it IS different this time, and that there is finally a good chance for the feds to end the war on MJ.

    they certainly haven’t pulled highway funds, etc. from WA post legalization as some opined, and we are seeing legitimate moves, like these two pieces of legislation, that even if they don’t pass – signal a sea change in federal ATTITUDE towards mj.

    obama is only mildly tone deaf. he’s taking note

  14. given the gop control of the house i can’t say this will be even close to passing; it’s too bad it wasn’t a couple senators where it would have had a sliver more chance to pass which would at least bring the issue up front and center. I agree with what others have been saying; if this is going to committee it will die there.

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